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Government moves to tackle virus affecting tomato harvest


The Minister of agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh

The Minister of agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh

The Federal Government has commenced moves to tackle the increasing spread of Tuta Absoluta disease also known locally as tomato ebola affecting tomato harvest in the country.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, who disclosed this during a media briefing yesterday in Abuja, said the virus could wipe out tomato production and also affect pepper and potato harvest in the country if drastic steps are not taken.

He said Tuta Absoluta is a tough pest to control as it has developed resistance to pesticides application, adding that stages of its life cycle, that is egg, larva, pupa and adult are very destructive, as the infestation of the disease could ravage and wipe out tomato farms within 48 hours.

He added that: “The pest has the capacity to reproduce 10-12 times in a year, in tranches of 250-300 young ones within 28 days, coupled with favourable environment, that is the high temperature, wind speed among others and lack of management knowledge for containment resulted in its spread like wild fire without any challenge.”

Ogbeh, however, refuted media reports that the high price of the vegetable was caused by Dangote and Erisco Foods tomato processing plants.
He said: “At the first instance, tomato produced by farmers were being bought by Dangote and Erisco processing plants, then the diseases began, causing enormous food loss.”

Explaining that the pest originated from South America in 1912 and has ravage tomato farms in many countries of the world till date including Europe, Middle East, Asia and Africa, he said that the virus spread to Nigeria through Niger Republic.

The minister disclosed that the pest has infested tomato farms in Katsina, Kano, Kaduna, Jigawa, Nasarawa Lagos, Oyo, and Ogun states, saying efforts are on to curtail the spread.

Ogheh stated that the Federal Government is still soliciting for funds to tackle the virus, adding that the ministry was working with Agornet Nigeria, representative of Ruselle UK who are experts in tackling Tuta Absoluta.

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